If anyone could ever wax poetic, it was Henry David Thoreau. Here is what the legendary wordsmith jotted down on one of his not infrequent visits to Bangor in the mid-1800s: “There stands the city of Bangor, fifty miles up the Penobscot, at the head of navigation for vessels of the largest class, the principal lumber depot on this continent, with a population of twelve thousand, like a star on the edge of night, still hewing at the forests of which it is built, already overflowing with the luxuries and refinement of Europe, and sending its vessels to Spain, to England, and the West Indies for its groceries.”

New England never experienced too many boomtowns but Bangor was one. Sitting at the head of navigation on the Penobscot River (explorer Samuel de Champlain had called the river “handsome and agreeable” when he poked around the Maine coast in 1604) and possessing a natural harbor deep enough to comfortably handle oceangoing ships, Bangor was ideally situated to exploit the vast white pine forests that stretched unbroken between the town and Canada. The first sawmill was set up when the place was still called Kenduskeag Plantation in 1772. The name Bangor would come - so the most popular story goes - two decades later when the Reverend Seth Noble was sent to the Massachusetts General Court to incorporate the name “Sunbury.” But the good parson could not get his favorite Welsh ditty “Bangor” out of his head and blurted the hymn name out at the moment of truth.

A few decades down the line Bangor was incorporated as a city in 1834 and there were more than 300 sawmills humming. Bridges weren’t necessary to cross the Penobscot, you could just hop across on the traffic jam of logs. Bangor held the undisputed championship belt of “Lumber Capital of the World” and would continue to do so until the network of railroads opened up the hardwood forests of Central Pennsylvania and the Upper Great Lakes and the Pacific Northwest in the 1880s.

The lumber barons used their profits on opulent mansions and there was plenty of money for impressive civic projects. In many ways the Bangor streetscape could easily be mistaken for a city many times its size. Architects from Boston and New York City were regular arrivals in town. And then came April 30, 1911. Hay bales caught fire in a dockside warehouse and before the flames could be extinguished half of the city’s 100 downtown blocks had perished. It was the last major fire in Maine’s history and considered to be the last massive urban fire in the United States. Luckily, only two people died.

But Bangor shook off the conflagration like so many snow flakes on the shoulder. Rebuilding was so rapid that the Bangor Daily News editorialized two years later, “Our crooked streets have been made straight; our narrow streets have been made wider; our busiest streets have been newly paved with more durable material; our streets have been fitted for automobile traffic, and most wonderful of all, towering business blocks of brick, iron and concrete have sprung up, seemingly like mushroom growths, along most of the former business thoroughfares, many of them being much larger and taller upon the very sites of former rattletrap structures.” Bangor suddenly possessed Maine’s first completely 20th century streetscape.

Maybe the recovery from destruction emboldened future generations in Bangor. The city was very aggressive with urban renewal projects later in that 20th century, much to its detriment. To explore how those streets look in yet another century we will begin our investigations at one building that has seen it all, a place where Thoreau would stay when he was marveling at the city...  
1.
Bangor House
174 Main Street at southeast corner of Union Street

This venerable guest house was born the same year Bangor became a city - 1834, although manager Martin S. Wood would not see all 75 rooms of his hotel completed until the following year. It was the largest hotel in Maine at the time and cost $125,000 to build. The Federal-style plans were drawn up by Charles G. Bryant who found his inspiration in the Tremont House in Boston, the nation’s first hotel with indoor plumbing and running water. Wags in the Bangor Daily Whig dubbed the new Bangor House “the Second Tremont.” Bryant hailed from Belfast Maine, the son of a shipwright. He came to Bangor in 1825 at the age of 22 to work as a housewright, although he was soon using the term “architect” on his business shingle. Bryant sketched out a master plan for Bangor’s streets and laid out America’s second garden cemetery at Mount Hope. (Boston’s Mount Auburn was the first). Bryant’s commissions dried up during the Panic of 1837 and he traded his drawing pen for a military sword. He started a military school and became entangled in the Aroostook War over border disputes with Canada. He then took off for Galveston where he became one of the first architects in the Republic of Texas. Bryant eventually joined the Texas Rangers and was killed in ambush by Apache Indians in 1850. Meanwhile the Bangor House was chugging along as one of the country’s early “palace hotels.” When the City leveled the steep grade that once existed at this corner then-owner Horace Chapman tinkered with the original 3 1/2-story building to increase the number of rooms to 250 and create the facade seen today. Over the years this is where visiting politicians - five U.S. presidents - and celebrities to Bangor would sign the guest register. Guests of all stripes stopped coming in the 1970s and the Bangor House was gutted and converted into low income housing.

ACROSS UNION STREET IS...

2.
McGuire Building
152-158 Main Street at the northeast corner of Union Street

Bangor’s leading hotel is now gone and so to is its downtown Greyhound bus station that was located in the McGuire Building. But that is no reason not to welcome guests here and so Annette Dodd hand-painted a 40-by-14 foot wall mural that is an homage to a 1940s-styled postcard.  

HEAD DOWN THE HILL ON MAIN STREET, TOWARDS TOWN.

3.
Bangor Opera HousePenobscot Theatre Company
131 Main Street

Thomas Upham Coe was born in Northwood, New Hampshire in 1837 but his father Ebenezer brought the family to Bangor when he was eight years old to engage in the timber business. The thick Maine woods provided enough money to send Thomas to the Jefferson Medical College and then to Paris for two more years of study at the Ecole de Medicin. He was 26 years old when he returned to Bangor to practice medicine. He quit after 15 years to devote all his attention to the vast tracts of timberland he had acquired and inherited in the North Woods. One of his many properties was the opulent Bangor Opera House that had been raised in the Romanesque style on plans drawn by Boston architect Arthur H. Vinal in 1882. The Opera House escaped the 1911 conflagration but caught fire itself on January 15, 1914. It was equally as tragic as the Great Fire of 1911 as two firefighters were killed when a wall collapsed. Nearing 80, Coe sold the property to Joseph P. Bass, publisher of the Bangor Daily Commercial, rather than rebuild. Bass hired Edward J. Bolen of Old Orchard Beach for the new theater, now aimed more at the booming silent films of the era than high culture. The building trundled on through the rest of the 20th century in various states of disrepair, operating as the Bangor Cinema after 1966. Since 1997 it has been under the stewardship of the Penobscot Theatre Company, founded in 1973 by George Vafiadis and Lou Collier.

4.
Adams Pickering Block
northwest corner of Main and Middle streets

Here is a rare 19th century Victorian commercial souvenir, a survivor of both the Great Fire of 1911 and enthusiastic urban renewers a half century later. Architect George W. Orff, a son of Bangor, contributed the French Second Empire design for these two adjoining buildings in 1871. Orff began his working life as a carpenter but an interest in architecture led him to Boston in 1866 when he was 30 years old to study under Maine native Calvin Ryder. He was back in Bangor by 1870 and his services were much in demand until he departed for Minneapolis eight years later. The moneyman for the project was George W. Pickering, merchant, developer, mayor, vice president of the Bangor Theological Seminary and president of the Kenduskeag Bank. His block stands as Orff’s most visible legacy in Maine. As the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier summed up at the time, the building is “an ornament to the street and a credit to its owner, designer and builders.”

5.
Maine Discovery Building
74 Main Street

A. Langdon Freese opened a men’s furnishing store on this block in 1892 and added women’s clothing to his offerings in 1916. In 1922 a fire caused by defective wiring began in a fourth floor elevator shaft and before it could be extinguished $250,000 worth of damage had been done in this block - more than $160,000 to Freese’s stock. He took the insurance money and rebuilt bigger and better - the largest department store in Maine with six floors of merchandise for eager shoppers in Aroostook County and Down East Maine to pick through. There were elevator operators, a popular lunch counter and the only escalators north of Portland for shoppers to ride. All of that was no match for suburban shopping malls and Freese’s expired in the 1980s. The store building was repurposed in 2001 for the Maine Discovery Museum. The upstairs space was converted into assisted living space. 
   
6.
Coe Block
61 Main Street at northwest corner of Cross Street

Here is another building in the Coe family real estate empire, rendered in a handsome brick Colonial Revival style in 1928.

TURN LEFT ON CROSS STREET. AT THE END OF THE SHORT BLOCK IS...

7.
Columbia Street Baptist Church
63 Columbia Street

The First Baptist Church was founded in 1845 to provide spiritual comfort to those working on the docks of the world’s busiest lumber-shipping port. The mission operated from a sanctuary known as Grey’s Hall on Broad Street. When the mission morphed into a church in 1845 it began with 27 members but within a year the congregation had grown tenfold. The result was a commodious sanctuary on Columbia Street known as the Free House since all seats at services were offered to worshipers at no charge. There have been tweaks to the property over the years - the two towers arrived in 1902 along with stained glass windows and two wings came along in the 1950s.

RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO MAIN STREET AND TURN LEFT.

8.
W.C. Bryant Jewelers
46 Main Street

This block of lower Main Street mostly survived the Great Fire of 1911 and contains Bangor’s best souvenir collection of 19th century storefronts. The Greek Revival and Italianate three- and four-story brick buildings could have been plucked from just about any American downtown of that period. Standing in the middle of it all for four generations was W.C. Bryant, “Jeweler to the People.” William Cullen Bryant established the trade in 1842. Next door was Abe Berg’s Standard Shoe Store, opened in 1908 and almost made it to the next century before closing in 1998. Besides lumber, the shoe and moccasin industry was Bangor’s biggest economic engine of yore.  

TURN RIGHT ON BROAD STREET.

9.
West Market Square Historic District

This little pocket of Victorian buildings huddled not only through the Great Fire of 1911 but managed to survive urban renewal efforts when the wrecking balls started swinging. The six attached buildings here reflect a higher style than the section of Main Street you just toured as Market Square - originally an open air marketplace at the junction of Main and Broad streets in the original vision of Bangor in 1834 - attracted many of the town’s most deep-pocketed business folk. On the far east end the Pickering Block from the mid-1860s boasts a French Second Empire styling with a high mansard roof, columns on the street level and granite trim. The Phenix Block next door presents a more exuberant Italianate face than its Main Street neighbors with a larger and far more elaborate cornice. The Webster Block in the middle mimics the style of the Pickering Block as they were constructed at the same time. The slender E.P. Baldwin Building at 10-12 Broad Street is the oldest of the grouping, appearing before 1843. It was raised in the Greek Revival style but in an attempt to keep up with its more showy block mates an Italianate cornice was tacked on in the 1880s. 

10.
Merchant’s Bank Building
25-27 Broad Street

The original developers of this property in 1834 opted for a curved facade on the square and so it has been ever since. The bank created the current Beaux Arts facade in 1907 with golden brick and granite. Another section was added in 1924. At one point four banks were clustered on Market Square. The handsome structure spent an ignoble 15 years as a vacant hulk but it was rescued with a multi-million dollar renovation into luxury residential and retail space. 

11.
Bangor Daily News
1 Merchants Plaza

Richard J. Warren put out the first edition of the Bangor Daily News on June 18, 1889. In 1900 his Bangor Publishing Company acquired the Bangor Whig and Courier that had been in operation since 1832. The Daily News is still a family-owned newspaper, now in its fourth generation of Warrens. The first presses were housed at 86-92 Exchange Street before moving to 491 Main Street in 1954. The company offices relocated here in 2014. The seven-story International-style office tower was opened in 1973, ending a drought of new office construction in downtown Bangor that stretched back to before the Great Depression.

RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO MAIN STREET AND TURN RIGHT.

12.
Wheelwright Block
34 Hammond Street at northeast corner of Broad Street

This ornate anchor to Market Square arrived in 1859, courtesy of Benjamin S. Deane. Deane was one of the few men in eastern Maine in the middle of the 19th century who could rightfully call himself an architect. Deane was born in Thomaston in 1790 and whatever he picked up about building and architecture was self-taught. He served as a lieutenant in the Thomaston militia and rose in rank to receive a colonel’s commission. His first mark as an architect came when he was 37 years old and directed the construction of the town’s Congregational Church. His first commissions did not start coming until he was well in his forties. This client was Wheelright & Clark Clothiers and Deane delivered what is considered the first commercial French Second Empire building in Maine.
  
TURN RIGHT ON HAMMOND STREET.

13.
Merrill Trust Company Building
2 Hammond Street

Edward Godfrey Merrill was born in Bangor in 1873, the son of a banker and former paymaster’s clerk in the Union Army. After an education that included Bangor High School, Exeter High School and Harvard College Merrill made his first business connection in the city in 1896 as Merrill & Company. After a few years he departed for New York City before returning to take over his old firm which was reorganized into the Merrill Trust Company. His Big Apple connections brought Frank E. Newman to Bangor to design a new headquarters for the bank. Newman crafted an elaborate Beaux Arts vault with ornamentation oozing from every crack in the masonry. The first floor keystones and Doric columns and overwrought entrance remain but the top floor has been seriously degraded from Newman’s vision.

14.
Norumbega Parkway

These two man-made islands in Kenduskeag Stream contained the city’s federal building and Norumbega Hall, a market house, until both burned to the ground in the 1911 Fire. Money from lumber baron Luther Peirce’s estate helped create this greenspace flanked by canals on either side.  The bronze statue at the head of the Parkway is of Hannibal Hamlin, crafted from bronze by Charles Tefftt and dedicated in 1927. Hamlin was born in the Paris District of Maine in 1809 - six months after Abraham Lincoln. A half-century later Hamlin would serve as Lincoln’s Vice-President in his first term. Hamlin did not run for a second term with Lincoln because he was called up to active Civil War duty with his Maine Coast Guard unit for training. Andrew Johnson joined the ticket and became President when Abraham Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth six months later. Hamlin’s daughter Sarah and son Charles were in attendance for the performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre that night. Hamlin remained in politics and served two terms in the United States Senate before retiring in 1880 due to a weak heart.

15.
Eastern Trust Building
6 State Street

Bangor architect C. Parker Crowell was involved in over 1000 buildings after he founded Thomas & Crowell with John F. Thomas in 1902. He was especially busy after the Great Fire of 1911 and this six-story confection for the Eastern Trust Company is considered his finest of those post-conflagration works. It features a metal cornice and fanciful brick panel decorations.  

16.
Bangor Savings Bank
3 State Street

Eleven Bangor businessmen, “all influential citizens, good men and true, whose integrity and enterprise left a mark on their city that has never been erased,” gained a charter for the Bangor Savings Bank in 1852. Elijah Hamlin, brother of Hannibal, was the enterprise’s first president. After the 1911 Fire the bank recruited New York City architects John Carrère and Thomas Hastings, leading cheerleaders of the Beaux Arts style, to design a new bank building. It is fashioned from light grey Hallowell, Maine granite and adorned with brass doors and fixtures. The Bangor Savings Bank sprouted over 50 branches around the state from this location and is one of Maine’s biggest financial organizations. 

17.
Bacon & Robinson Building
15 State Street

Scottish immigrants David, John, and George Jardine teamed up to form one of the most versatile and prolific architecture practices in late 19th century New York City. Here the firm delivered a three-story Renaissance Revival office for Bacon & Robinson coal merchants. The design is much more restrained than the bank next door, more befitting of the needs of a coal business.

18.
Exchange Building
27 State Street at southeast corner of Harlow Street

The celebrated Boston architectural firm of Robert Swain Peabody and John Goddard Stearns added this street ornament in 1913 using polychromatic brown brick enlivened by colored terra cotta tile and cast stone trim.

19.
First National Bank Building
33 State Street at northeast corner of Harlow Street

Wilfed E. Mansur was the go-to architect in Penobscot County at the turn of the 20th century, piling up commissions for the county courthouse and at least seven schools. Despite being 56 years old at the time of the 1911 conflagration Mansur entered the busiest part of his career in the aftermath. This Classical Revival effort studded with Ionic columns is composed of tan pressed prick. With three stories cut into the hill, the building was created for the First National Bank. This entire heritage block of six widely disparate structures on the north side of Exchange Street is packaged as a single piece of real estate. Back in the day, this was the hub of the Bangor social scene. Mansur also designed the Nichols Block that anchors the block at York Street. The Nichols, built in 1892 and survivor of the Great Fire, featured the city’s most popular dance floor.  

BEAR RIGHT AND CLIMB UP PARK STREET.

20.
Bangor Telephone Exchange
59 Park Street

The first telephone exchange was established in Bangor in 1880. Thirty years later the city had more than 4,000 phones and the exchange handled about 23,000 calls a day. But as the telephone became a universal necessity in the 1920s the phone company needed massive operating centers. About that same time Art Deco architecture was coming into fashion which suited the utility company needs splendidly. Art Deco buildings like this one from 1930 exist across North America.

21.
Tarratine Club
81 Park Street

The year was 1884. Hannibal Hamlin, then in his seventies, had just returned to Bangor following a two-year stint as Minister to Spain and was ready to relax. With 30 others the Tarrantine social club was formed. Tarratine is a geological formation in Maine and the Native Americans who lived here for centuries. The games of pool and cards among Bangor’s elite must not always have been fun and games - Hamlin collapsed and died at the club on Independence Day 1891 while playing cards. The Tarrantine Club relocated to this handsome Colonial Revival clubhouse in 1907. The Boston firm of J. Harleston Parker, Douglas H. Thomas, and Arthur W. Rice drew up the plans.

22.
First Universalist Church
120 Park Street

Harvey Graves hailed from Bowdoinham, Maine but became a prominent curch architect in Boston during the middle of the 19th century. he designed this Italianate-styled church in 1860. This was the first of seven Bangor churches consumed in the flames in 1911. Services were held in town theaters and the sanctuary was rebuilt - sans original spires - and dedicated on June 2, 1913. The front wall of the church is original.

23.
First Baptist Church
56 Center Street

This congregation formed in 1818 and lost it sanctuary in 1911. It was replaced with a Norman-styled house of worship using dressed and undressed stone.

TURN LEFT AND WALK DOWN THE HILL ON CENTER STREET.

24.
Bangor Hydro-Electic Company Sub-Station
Center Street

This sub-station provided electricity to Bangor and when it burned that was it for power to the city. Jardine, Kent and Hill of New York hustled the brick building back into service using a form of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie-styled massing.

25.
Bangor City Hall
73 Harlow Street at northeast corner of Center Street

Oscar Wenderoth cut his architectural teeth with John Carrère and Thomas Hastings in New York City before joining the United States Treasury as a draftsman in 1897. In 1912, the 41-year old Wenderoth was appointed director of the Office of the Supervising Architect by President William Howard Taft. One of the projects that fell on his desk was building a new post office in Bangor. The granite-faced Renaissance Revival federal building was ready by 1915. That same year Wenderoth tendered his resignation without explanation. The building now does duty as Bangor City Hall. 

IN FRONT OF YOU AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL IS...

26.
Graham Block
southwest corner of Harlow Street and Center Street

It was said that Bangor was “the best lighted city on earth” when the fire struck in 1911. The town sported one and one-half light bulbs per person. The man responsible for supplying juice for all that wattage was John R. Graham, president of a subsidiary of General Electric known as Bangor Hydro which generated power from dams across the Union River and the Penobscot River. Graham kept his company headquartered here and it was no surprise this was one of the first major buildings to rise from the devastation wrought by the fire. Wilfrid Mansur drew up the Romanesque-flavored plans for the round-cornered six-story office building.  

TURN RIGHT ON HARLOW STREET. 

27.
Bangor Public Library
145 Harlow Street

The Bangor Mechanic Association, created to foster the cultural lives of local artisans and craftsmen, assembled a private collection for a reading room in 1830. It became a full-fledged lending library (for a membership fee) in 1880 thanks to gifts from the estate of Samuel Freeman Hersey, a Sumner, Maine native, who made his fortune in Maine and Minnesota timber lands. The library opened to the public in 1905 and lost 70,000 books to the 1911 fire. Only 29 were saved from the flames which were lent out when a makeshift library opened shortly thereafter. Peabody & Stearns designed the Renaissance Revival book depository in 1912 with yellow brick and granite trim, highlighted by a copper-and-glass dome. When hometown legend Stephen King appeared on Celebrity Jeopardy he was playing for the Bangor Public Library.

28.
Bangor High School
northeast corner of Harlow Street and Spring Street

Robert Swain Peabody and John Goddard Stearns must have thought they were still in Boston when they were designing the new Bangor High School in 1913. Those who know such things claimed the new Renaissance Revival building was the biggest high school in a city the size of Bangor in all of New England. Each student enjoyed a steel “sanitary” locker of his or her own and when it was to time to assemble there was a 900-seat auditorium for the task. Bangor’s girls and boy did not mingle in the same classroom until 1864; the boys shcool had started in 1835 and the girls in 1838. Bangor high school students left this space in the 1960s. The old high school, dating to 1852,  had stood across the street before the fire.

RETRACE YOUR STEPS TO CENTRAL STREET AND TURN RIGHT.

29.
Central Building
73 Central Street

Wilfrid E. Mansur was busy redecorating this block after the Great Fire. The Romanesque-styled Central Block featured a large assembly hall and was completed in 1912. The building was spared during aggressive urban renewal campaigns but has been vacant for decades.

30.
Kirstein Block
44 Central Street

It must have been hard to keep from repeating oneself with such a massive rebuilding job as faced Bangor in 1911. Here C. Parker Crowell used similar brick panel decorations on this Colonial Revival commercial block for Louis Kirstein & Sons as he had on the Eastern Trust Company Building across the Kenduskeag Stream. The company was the largest real estate concern in Bangor.

31.
Stetson Block
31 Central Street

The Stetson family was a force in Bangor political and mercantile affairs since the city’s earliest days. Charles became a lawyer and U.S. Congressman; Iasiah confined himself to local politics as Mayor of Bangor and member of the Maine House of Representatives; George was a major player in the timber trade, shipbuilding and insurance. The family owned two major commercial blocks in town, both lost in 1911. This is the larger of the two, designed by Parker, Thomas, and Rice of Boston. The classically influenced, multi-hued brick structure uses carved stone for its main entrance.

TURN RIGHT ON COLUMBIA STREET.

32.
Columbia Building
southwest corner of Hammond Street at Columbia Street

Wilfrid Mansur designed this distinctive commercial building with a chamfered corner in 1892. The ground floor has compromised the Romanesque Revival building’s intended appearance.

33.
Albert and Edmond Dole Steam Mill Block
84-96 Hammond Street

Albert and Edmond Dole, brothers and cabinetmakers, set up a furniture factory on this site in 1822. The evolution of these two red brick blocks began in the 1830s with a three-story woodturning facility at #84. The first big expansion came in 1843 with the installation of a steam mill at #88 that enabled the company to churn out quality furniture at reasonable prices on a scale seldom seen outside the largest cities. The Dole Brothers Company outlived Albert and Edward and was purchased by James A. Chandler and George H. Oakes in 1889 who stopped the furniture making. 

34.
Penobscot County Courthouse
97 Hammond Street at northeast corner of Court Street

This Beaux Arts seat of justice with projecting bays is more handiwork from Wilfrid Mansur in 1903. The price tag was $116,500. The building served for over 100 years before the Penobscot Judicial Center opened in 2009 on Exchange Street. That price tag - $36,400,000. Mansur attempted to blend the courthouse with the existing Penobscot County Jail to the rear that had been constructed in 1869 in a High Italian style. That effort by Gridley J.F. Bryant also tried to blend into the surrounding neighborhood, a far cry from today’s retention centers. It still does duty as the Sheriff’s Office.

35.
Hammond Street Congregational Church
28 High Street at northeast corner of High Street

John D. Towle came to architecture by means unknown but he found success in Massachusetts designing churches in the 1840s. Towle teamed with surveyor Francis Foster in 1852, about the same time he discovered the Italianate style which became his go-to design. Towle and Foster cranked out a dozen New England churches in their three years together, including an overhaul of this 1833 Greek Revival sanctuary which they stripped to the walls.

TURN LEFT ON HIGH STREET. BEAR RIGHT BEHIND THE CHURCH.

36.
Colonial Apartments
51 High Street

Bangor architect Victor Hodgins designed this early example of a planned apartment building in 1919, digging the Colonial Revival style out of his architectural playbook. The three-story apartment house contains six comfortable units aimed at the city’s middle class and not much has changed in the ensuing century.

37.
Williams House
62 High Street

When he wasn’t engaged in his harness and saddle business John Williams was a member of the local militia. He saw some brief and ineffective action against an occupying British force during the War of 1812 but otherwise he rose through the ranks uneventfully until reaching Brigadier General in 1828. He was also given command of the Washington Engine that year, a fire-fighting brigade in the Bangor Fire Department. By that time Williams was living in this well-proportioned Federal style house; records are murky but it is believed to be to oldest brick house in Bangor.

38.
Thomas A. Hill House
159 Union Street at northwest corner of High Street

Richard Upjohn was born in England where his vocation was a master mechanic. He sailed with his family to the United States when he was 27 years old in 1829. In America he fancied himself an architect and while based in Boston in the 1830s Bangor is where he won his earliest important commissions. He designed the first church for the St. John’s congregation in 1835 which was made of wood and burned in the Great Fire of 1911. The current design of that iconic church on French Street was executed as a stone replica by Upjohn’s grandson, Hobart. At the same time Upjohn designed this Greek Revival showplace for high-powered businessman Thomas A. Hill. It was not a happy time for Hill in his splendid house, or rather the bank’s splendid house. The president of the Bangor Commercial Bank suffered severe financial reversals in the Panic of 1837. His mortgage holder in Boston permitted him to remain in the house and pay insurance, heat and taxes until the property was sold to Samuel Dale, in whose family it would remain for three generations. In 1944 the Sons of Union Veterans acquired the property and hold the title in perpetual trust. The Bangor Historical Society uses the second floor for collections.  

ACROSS THE STREET, TO YOUR RIGHT IS THE...

39.
Isaac Farrar Mansion
166 Union Street

Richard Upjohn would gain fame as an architect with his grand Gothic Revival church buildings. But before that day came, in 1836 he worked in the popular Greek Revival style of the day. The client was Isaac Farrar, not yet 40 years old and newly arrived in town from Dexter, Maine. Farrar could afford the big bucks after winning a fortune as a lumberman and merchant. He would go on to helm the Maritime Bank of Bangor. The wonderfully proportioned brick house left the Farrar family following the patriarch’s death in 1860 at the age of 62. Following 50 more years of private ownership the house began dormitory duty for the University of Maine Law School an then, beginning in 1929, the Bangor Symphony was quartered here. It is currently the property of the YMCA.

TURN AND WALK DOWN THE HILL ON UNION STREET.

40.
Union Street Brick Church
southwest corner of Union and Main Street

The Independent Congregational Church broke away from another church in 1818 in a spat between Trinitarianism and Unitarianism. There were more wars of words over the years and the original meetinghouse burned after a fiery antislavery sermon from the pulpit. The Unitarians then erected this fine Italianate church boasting a 140-foot steeple; dedication took place on September 13, 1853. 

YOU HAVE NOW RETURNED TO THE TOUR STARTING POINT.